What is this call to examine?
Cornel West calls it, “Socratice questioning.” He says that, this questioning, is way we work through the various forms of death present among us, both of a personal and societal nature. Rather than escapism, we practice bravery, sitting amongst unsettling, perplexity, and shattering worldviews. And in this process, we as West puts it, “confront the night side of reality, of history, of morality.”
And out of this practice, this confrontation we merge/emerge with center. When we come home to yourselves, aware of reality, aware of our plight, only then can we know and fight for what we hold dear. Neuroscientist Simon LeVay calls this the formation of attention or awareness. I love that LeVay calls uses the word formation, as that speaks to the process that is Socratic questioning, awareness by examination. This way of coming to terms with and learn to embrace the messiness of existence.
As I mentioned before, I think great artists really understand this call. They bring us before darkness, where we sit together and breath as one.
Lauren Zuniga puts it well in her poem Opening,
I can’t believe someone pinned my stomach to a canvas. This is why we (artists) do this. This is an invitation to stop swallowing the art in your mouth. This is an invitation to stop ripping yourself apart. This is an invitation to be a live nude.Let them draw you dirty, flawed, and glistening. This is an invitation to your opening. (from the Smell of God Mud)